23 October 2020
25,000 citizen complaints to demand compliance with electric fishing Regulation
23 October 2020
Over 25,000 citizen complaints have so far been sent to the European Commission to demand sanctions against the Netherlands.
More powerful than a petition, this unprecedented action is a true demonstration of democracy. But BLOOM deplores the utter silence of the European Commission, and thus extends its action until a satisfactory response is obtained.
The end of impunity demanded
The 25,000 plaintiffs demand that the electric fishing Regulation be enforced. “We have become aware of the Netherlands’ total immunity within European institutions. On 2 October 2017, when we filed our first complaint against the Netherlands for illegal fishing, we had no idea about this, although a few citizens had warned us at the time that this country was ‘untouchable‘”, explains Sabine Rosset, Director of BLOOM.
Indeed, the electric fishing scandal continues unabated. “Other sectors could be infected by this rampant corruption of institutional processes. We are too small to systematically counter the Dutch empire, but we will not give up until the illegal nature of their electric fishing licenses is recognized and punished. It is unthinkable that the Dutch government is given such a privileged treatment” continues Sabine Rosset.
The European Commission is the principal accomplice
Although BLOOM has won its fight for a ban on electric fishing, the European Commission continues to err. It refuses to sanction a Dutch government that is blatant breach of the law. The European Commission has in fact confirmed in a letter addressed to BLOOM on 29 July 2020 that the Netherlands could only grant a maximum of 15 derogations to practice electric fishing. The Commission however went on and suggested that this Member State could continue frauding though an abusive interpretation of the law. Since 1 January 2020, the Netherlands has officially retained 22 licenses but BLOOM revealed that at least 27 vessels have used electric fishing in 2020. BLOOM demands that the Commission opens an infringement procedure against this Member State.
Faithful to its public stance on this issue, the European Commission, by remaining silent, continues to protect a rogue state to the detriment of the common goods. While it should have responded — by 15 October 2020 at the latest — to our previous complaints against the Netherlands for illegal electric fishing, BLOOM has not yet received any response. The purpose of the mass complaints is to force the Commission to come out of its conniving silence and act against the impunity of the Netherlands. Or at last to seriously bother them.
A rescheduling of the agenda obtained by Dutch lobbies
Despite strong opposition from the European Parliament, electric fishing lobbies are congratulating themselves for putting electric fishing back on the agenda of the European Parliament’s PECH Committee next November. This is all the more worrying given that the German Minister, in her capacity as President of the Council, had previously announced that she wanted to “reopen the debate”. The goal of the Dutch lobby is clear: lift the ban on electric fishing.
More than ever, BLOOM needs the support of citizens to keep pressuring the European Commission. Every complaint is an extra thorn in its flesh. Let’s aim for 100,000 thorns: https://plaintecitoyenne.bloomassociation.org/en
NOTES AND REFERENCES
 The Netherlands has been fraudulently cheating on the number of licences for more than 10 years, granting up to 84 derogations.